GSBS Dissertations and Theses


Biophysical Analysis of the Human Erythrocyte Glucose Transporter: a Dissertation

Publication Date

October 2005

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology


Glucose Transport Proteins, Facilitative; Adenosine Triphosphate; Erythrocyte Membrane; Monosaccharide Transport; Academic Dissertations


Hydrodynamic analysis and electron microscopy of GLUT1/lipid/detergent micelles and freeze fracture electron microscopy of GLUT1 proteoliposomes support the hypothesis that the glucose transporter is a multimeric (probably tetrameric) complex of GLUT1 proteins. Some detergents (e.g. octylglucoside) maintain the multimeric complex while other detergents (e.g. CHAPS and dodecylmaltoside) promote the dissociation of GLUT1 oligomers into smaller aggregation states (dimers or monomers). GLUT1 does not appear to exchange rapidly between protein/lipid/detergent micelles but is able to self-associate in the plane of the lipid bilayer. Quantitatively deglycosylated GLUT1 displays aberrant electrophoretic mobility, but each protein band contains full-length GLUT1 and the less mobile species, when treated with additional detergent and reductant, converts to the more mobile species. Preliminary structural analysis suggests that denaturing detergent- and thiol chemistry-related changes of α-helical content may mirror mobility shifts. Limited proteolysis of membrane-resident GLUT1 (± ligands) releases membrane-spanning α-helical domains suggesting that (i) some bilayer-resident helices are highly solvent exposed; (ii) membrane-spanning domains 1, 2, & 4 and 7, 8, & 10 are destabilized upon ligand binding; and (iii) helix packing compares well with high-resolution structures of prokaryotic transporters from the same superfamily. Results are consistent with a central, hydrophilic, translocation pathway comprised of amphipathic, membrane-spanning domains that alter associations upon ligand/substrate binding. We have resolved technical difficulties (heterogeneity, lipid/detergent removal, glycosylation, small molecule contamination) associated with GLUT1 analysis by mass spectrometry; and we map global conformational changes between sugar uptake and sugar efflux.


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